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THE STAR OF BETHLEHEM.
A traveler over the desert, left his tent one evening, alone, for the purpose of obtaining a view of the sea, which his Arab servant told him could be seen from a little elevation in the distance. On reaching the point indicated, the view was truly sublime. The sea in all its grandeur lay before him, its restless billows dashing on the shore, while the interminable waste of sand stretched almost as far as the eye could see, save where the lofty mountains reared their snow-covered summits to the skies.
The exceeding beauty of the scene so captivated him, that all else was for the time forgotten, until the shades of evening admonished him to return. But the sudden gusts of wind, which sweep over the desert here, raising the sand in mounds, then depressing the surface like the gently undulating fields of our own land, had so much changed the appearance of the spot, that the terrible conviction came over his mind that he was lost." He wandered about for some time in vain ; wearied and sad, he resolved to lie down until morning should come to his aid.
But, as he lay, thoughts of the fierce Bedouin, that scourge of the desert, came across him. Then fears of the terrible beasts who select the darkness of the night to seek their prey, overcame all other considerations, and he determined to make one effort more, and what was his joy, on reaching one of these sandy elevations, to see the faint glimmering of a light. Could it be an Arab tent? No matter, at all hazards it must be reached. But no sooner had he descended from the spot where he stood, than the billowy surface bid it from his view. Here was a new difficulty-how was it to be overcome? Again he reached the rising ground, and fixed on a star in the direction he sought, he followed it like the Magi of old, till it brought what proved to be his own tent.
Traveler to eternity ! in gazing on the pleasures of this fleeting world, in thus suffering its cares to engross so much of your attention, you have lost your way. Allurements are on every side to ensnare you, and Satan goes about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. Arise! the star of Bethlehem shines on thee. Follow its guidance; it shall lead thee to thy home.
Christian, bearing the burden and heat of the day, has thy faith grown faint ? Dost thou see no reward for thy labors ? Are thy prayers un. answered ? Has Christ's service become a task? Is the yoke grierous ? Or do the corruptions and deceitfulness of thy heart cause thee to falter ? Art thou oppressed and wearied with thine earthly allotment? Look up! The day-star beams on thee! Soon shall it guide thee to thy Father's house.
TRANSLATED BY THE EDITOR.
In the way of righteousness is life; and in the pathway thereof there is no death.Prov. 12: 28.
In the reign of King Munbas, it came to pass that there was a great famine. The people gave up all hope, and were overwhelmed with great distress. The King's heart was deeply moved, and he gave direction to his servants that all the treasures which had been gathered by his predecessors, should be employed to buy corn and oil, to be distributed among the poor and suffering.
However, the brothers to the King were not so noble-hearted. They murmured because the money was spent in this way, and spake hard words to the King, saying: “Your fathers increased the treasures which they inherited from their fathers; but you add nothing to them, and even spend what they have left behind !"
Then the King answered : “I too preserve the treasures which my fathers have left me. There is only this difference to be observed : they gathered earthly treasures, I gather heavenly treasures. They laid them up where they may be taken away and lost; but I hide them where no human hand can touch them. What they gathered bore no fruit to them ; but what I gather brings me back many fold. They preserved gold and silver; I preserve human life. They saved for others; I save for myself. They increased treasures for this world ; but mine will be a comfort to me in that which is to come !"
GAMLIEL SERVES HIS GUESTS.
When the son of Gamliel was married, Rabbi Eliezer, Jehoschuab, and Zadok, were invited to the marriage feast. Gamliel, one of the principal men in Israel, waited on bis guests. He poured out a goblet of wine and handed it to Rabbi Eliezer, but he declined to receive it. Then he offered it to Jehoschuah, who accepted it.
“Friend Jehoschuah," asked Rabbi Eliezer, “shall we permit our. selves to be served by a man who is so eminent as Gamliel ?"
“Why not?" answered Jehoschuah.” Did not one do the same who was greater than he ? Was not father Abraham greater than he ? And yet he waited on his guests; for it is written, 'And he stood by them under the tree, and they did eat.' (Gen. xviii: 8.) Do you perhaps think that he did this because he knew that they were angels ? Not so; he supposed them to be travelers from Arabia, else he would not have offered them water to wash their feet, and food to allay their hunger. Why should we forbid our host to imitate such an example ?"
“But do not I know one,” said Rabbi Zadok, falling into the conversation, “who is still greater than Abraham, and who does the same every day? How long shall we forget the honor of our Creator, while we praise his creatures ? He makes his winds to blow, and gathers the clouds that the rain may descend from them. He makes the earth fruitful, and day by day prepares a costly feast for His creatures. Blessed be His name! Why shall we prevent our host from doing as the Lord does ?"
HATE NOT SINNERS, BUT SIN. She opened her mouth with wisdom; and her tongue is the law of kindness.- Pror. 31: 26.
Rabbi Mier had very troublesome neighbors, who found their greatest pleasure in doing him all kinds of harm. Provoked by their persecutions, he prayed God to destroy them.
His wife heard his prayer. “My dear husband,” said she, “were it not better to pray that God should change them, and make them better ? Remember that David, the King, prayed not for the destruction of sinners, but of sin. For it is written : “Let sin* be consumed out of the earth, and the wicked be no more.” (Ps. 104: 35.) Pray, therefore, that they may repent, but not that they be destroyed.”
Then the good Rabbi praised the good advice of his wife, and thenceforward prayed to God that He might enlighten the hearts of his wicked neighbors, and give them repentance and better minds.
TALKING AND WRITING.
A man never knows what he has read until he has either talked about it or written about it. Talking and writing are digestive processes which are absolutely essential to the mental constitution of the man who devours many books. But it is not every man that can talk. Talking
* True, in the common translation, and not without some ground, it stands : "Let the sinners, &c.” But according to the Hebrew text, the wife of the Rabbi has also suficient grounds for her views.
implies, first of all, a readiness on part of the speaker, and, next, a sympathetic listener. It is therefore as a digestive process the most difficult, if it is the most rapid, in its operation. Writing is a different affair; a man may take his time to it, and not require a reader. He can be his own reader. It is an easier, although more formal process of digestion than talking. It is in everybody's power; and everybody who reads much makes more or less use of it, because, as Bacon says, if he does not write, then he ought to have extraordinary faculties to compensate for such neglect. It is in this view that we are to understand the complaint of a well-known author, that he was ignorant of a certain subject, and the means by which he was to dispel his. ignorance-namely, by writing on it. It is in this view that the monitorial system of instruction has its great value-to the monitors it is the best sort of teaching. It is from the same point of view that Sir William Hamilton used to lament the decay of teaching as a part of the education of students at the universities. In the olden time it was necessary to the obtaining of a degree, that the graduate should give evidence of his capacity as a teacher; and in the very titles of his degree, as magister, and doctor, he was designated a teacher. A man never knows anything, Sir William used to say, until he has taught it in some way or other—it may be orally, it may be in writing a book. It is a grand truth, and points a fine moral. Knowledge is knowledge, say the philosophers; it is precious for its own sake, it is an end to itself. But nature says the opposite. Knowledge is not knowledge until we use it; it is not ours until we have brought it under the command of the great social faculty, speech; we exist for society, and knowledge is null until we give it expression, and in so doing make it over to the social instinct.
THE TWO LAMENTS.
FROM THE GERMAN.
Over a new-filled grave a maiden tender,
“Grow, grow, fair tree,” she said,
As do my arms, mine eyes ;
Be hidden in the skies.
Over a new-made grave a lover bending,
“ Droop low to weep,” he said,
The hallowed cold turf sweep,
Where my beloved doth sleep.
THE SELFISH POOL AND THE LIBERAL SPRING.
LET us suppose some one saying, in reference to Missionary gifts, “If we give so much, we shall exhaust our resources."
To such we reply, Don't be afraid of that, my friend. See that little fountain yonder, away yonder in the distant mountain, shining like a thread of silver through the thick copse, and sparkling like a diamond in its healthful activity. It is hurrying on with trickling feet to bear its tribute to the river. See, it is passing a stagnant pool, and the pool hails it: Whither away, Master Streamlet ?” “I am going to the river, to bear this cup of water God has given me." “Oh your are very foolish for that,” cries the pool: "you'll need it before the summer is over: it has been a backward spring, and we shall have a hot summer to pay for it: you will dry up then.” “Well,” says the streamlet, "if I am to die soon, I had better work while the day lasts. If I am likely to lose this treasure from the heat, I had better do good with it while I have it." So on it went, blessing and rejoicing in its course. The pool smiled complacently at its own superior foresight, and husbanded all its resources, letting not a drop of water steal away. Soon the midsummer heat came down, and it fell upon the little stream. But the trees crowded to its brink, and threw out their sheltering branches over it in the day of adversity, for it brought refreshment and life to them, and the sun peeped through the branches, and smiled complacently upon its dimpled face, and seemed to say, “It is not in my heart to harm you.” The birds, too, sipped its silver tide, and sung its praises; the flowers breathed their perfume upom its bosom; the beasts of the field loved to linger by its banks; the husbandman's eye always sparkled with joy as he looked on the line of verdant beauty that marked its course through his fields and meadows; and so on it went, blessing and blessed of all.
And what of the prudent pool? Alas! in its inglorious inactivity it grew sickly and pestilential; the beasts of the field put their lips to it,